In the first in a new series we look at the life of this important devotional Society.
The Society of Mary springs from two similar societies founded in 1880 and 1901 respectively, which united in 1931. The Society has members all over the world and is not confined to Anglicanism. Where there are sufficient members in one place or area, they combine to form a Ward, with a priest as Superior and an elected Secretary. They can organise regular services, meetings, and many other activities, such as Pilgrimages, which in the UK are normally to The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Isolated members are joined to the Headquarters Ward.
The Society publishes its magazine AVE twice annually with details of pilgrimages, and festival services, etc. It is free to members and is the effective link between various Regions. The Society is not affiliated to any single Shrine or Marian institution, and is the only organisation endeavouring to promote equally all the different aspects of devotion to Mary.
The Society holds two major festivals, one in London at the Churches of S. Silas Kentish Town and Holy Trinity North-West London in May, the month of Mary, referred to as ‘The May Devotion’; the other is held in the north of England in October, which is known as ‘The October Devotion.’
The Society is most concerned with Ecumenism and has Pilgrimages to Lourdes, Rome, Loretto, and Nettuno. The Pilgrimages always include talks to widen members’ vision of the wonders of the Christian faith. Lourdes has been visited for many years and in 1984 a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was given to a Chapel in Lourdes.
Next year a new venture will take place for both youth (aged 12-18 years) as well as those of more senior years. The youngsters will be accommodated in the Youth Village and the Society is proposing to give a grant of 200€ towards the costs of each one participating. Following the devastating floods in June the Society immediately sent some financial relief to the authorities. In 2008 to Celebrate the eightieth year of The Society, the Archbishop of Canterbury led much of the special Lourdes Pilgrimage and was joined by Cardinal Walter Kasper for an Ecumenical Conference. During this most important Pilgrimage an Ecumenical Conference, hosted by the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, The Most Reverend Jacques Perrier, took place. The first paper was presented by Cardinal Walter Kasper and the second paper was presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Following the presentation of the Papers much useful discussion took place, including the importance of ARCIC and need to pray together.
Pillars of the Society
Devotion, Ecumenism and Mission are the three pillars of the Society as of the wider Catholic movement. The Society invites new members: do join us and please, whether active membership is for you or not, hold the SoM and its work in your prayers.
For further information: www.societyofmary.net ND
The Society is dedicated to the glory of God and in honour of the Holy Incarnation under the invocation of Our Lady, Help of Christians.
1. Members shall keep a Rule of Life, which will include such special devotions as the Angelus, the Rosary, the Litany and Anthems of Our Lady.
2. They will pray for Departed Members of the Society and offer Mass for them.
3. They will take part in the Mass on the principal Feasts of Our Lady.
4. They will engage in apostolic and pastoral work, according to opportunity, under the guidance of the local Ward Officers and the General Council.